who the heck knows anything, anyway

Friday, January 23, 2015

music music

Having a bit of a difficult time connecting to books right now. I'm not worried, it happens sometimes. Mood, taste, whatever it is, sometimes all I want are comics, sometimes all I want is TV. Occasionally, it's novels written by Russian authors in the 1950's. Desire is a fickle beast.

Anywho, right now I'm in a Music Place. Less music than lyrics, I guess, though that's complicated. I can't hear all the separate instruments doing their independent thing when I listen to music. Daniel can; he'll be like "That piano reminds me of X," and I have to listen for a minute and disassemble all the sounds before I can hear what he's talking about. However, as a person who is not tone deaf, good lyrics don't automatically make for good listening. I do have a soft spot in my heart for boys who don't sing pretty, though.

The thing is, I don't write music. I never have, and I don't have any particular desire to. I mean, sure, if I could magically be imbued with the ability to jam on guitar (let's be real: DRUMS) and carry a tune, I would absolutely be writing songs. But I'm not and I can't, so I don't. I write prose. That's my gig. So I feel a little frustrated when I'm sitting back, listening to Skeletal Lamping*, and I can't translate my feelings of elation and inspiration into my own work. I'm listening to The Hold Steady--my fave band 5eva--as we speak, and I want to write a book that has the same effect on people that Separation Sunday has on me every flipping time I listen to it. Or Heaven is Whenever. Or Neutral Milk Hotel's Aeroplane, the Parenthetical Girls' Safe As Houses, Josh Ritter's Historical Conquests, Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous.

I tried reading John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van recently. I'm not going to say it's a bad book, because I don't think that's actually true, but it wasn't my jam. I was disappointed--not in Darnielle (because a lot of people love his book, and I'm sure he wrote the piece he wanted to read), but in the fact that I didn't like it. The Mountain Goats are great! It was a bummer not to like his prose work. It's not totally surprising--some people can make the jump from poetry to prose (Jack Driscoll, anyone???? omg), but those people are the minority. Everyone is influenced by other media, though. Like I said, I'm not talking about writing music of my own. I want to figure out how to take the personal weight I feel when I listen to "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Hurricane J", and get the same weight out of my own prose work.

It might not be possible, exactly. Some mediums are just better suited to a particular project than others (TV is not a movie is not a novel is not a comic is not a painting, etc). But I've read books that made me roll on the floor and cry and laugh and forget to breathe, so I know some approximation is possible. I just don't want to forget what I want from a story--I don't want to get lost in tropes and story logic. I want to write about girls that smoke cigarettes on the St Johns Bridge at 1am and fall in love with boys who don't love them back. I want to write about religion and doubt and how downright terrifying it can be when you have dreams about God talking to you. Mental health and medication and identity, loving boys and girls and more than one person at a time, feeling like an incomplete sum of parts.

*I will fight anyone who says this is not Of Montreal's best album